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I Asked for a Raise. Here's What I Learned

Written by Christine Sharma

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

When I started my job writing at a startup media company, I was a recent grad with a BA and a starter salary.

A year later, my salary wasn't meeting my needs and I decided to ask for a raise. I'd never asked for a raise before, so it was a nerve-wracking but ultimately rewarding experience.

How I Started

I set up a meeting with my boss and let him know that I wanted to talk about my compensation. I came prepared with why I thought it was time to increase my salary and made sure I was straight to the point.

There are four big things I learned from asking for a raise for the first time:

1) Have a Reasonable New Salary Range in Mind

I work for a startup, and I'm still a recent grad, so I took that into account. I started bargaining on the higher end, with a limit on how little I was willing to accept. Chances are your boss will have a number in mind, too.

I did some research before I asked for a raise and found the North American website PayScale, which has all sorts of information on salaries, benefits and compensation.

2) Ask for What You Want - and Need.

According to a PayScale survey, 75 per cent of people who ask for a raise get one. There are other factors to bear in mind: if your company is under a wage freeze, for example, you might want to hold off on asking for a raise. And if you're really dissatisfied, maybe it's time to look for new work.

Here was my situation: it had been a year, and I really liked my job, but there was no mention of a raise, and I was struggling to support myself. I calculated how much more money I would need monthly to cover my bills and expenses, which made it easy to determine how much of a raise I needed to stay at the job and keep my financial situation from becoming hopeless.

I then bumped up my ask a little bit, just so I'd have wiggle room to negotiate.

3) Tell Your Boss Why You Believe You Deserve a Raise

I chose a few performance indicators that showed I was a benefit to the company and I was putting in the work to deserve higher wages. Having been there a year, the points in my favour were ones I could prove, and since my boss liked my work, he also knew what I was bringing to the table.

I felt I had a specialized, in-demand skill, which made me someone they'd want to keep.

4) Get Everything in Writing

One of my childhood friends has been working at a small accounting firm for two years, and last year, she asked for a raise.

Her biggest piece of advice? Get everything in writing.

This advice came in handy when, at the end of my meeting with my boss, I was told I got my raise. I was emailed a new contract in writing and knew when my new salary would take effect. I had record of my conversation and knew I'd been successful - it was all wrapped up neatly.

It Was Scary...at First

In our conversation, my boss told me that he needed me on his team, and he was willing to meet my expectations to ensure I was happy.

I was apprehensive about asking for a raise, but I came out the other side with a higher salary, and I'm much more satisfied with my job now. I've learned how to be more open with my boss, how to ask for what I want, and I've gained a new life skill.

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